By CONOR NICHOLL
Paced by senior receiver Dion Sylvester and senior end Isiah Tyson, Parsons football has enjoyed a strong 4-2 start. The Vikings have back-to-back road wins versus Baxter Springs (42-7) and Caney Valley (28-20). Parsons is home versus Columbus this week, and home versus Cherryvale in Week 8.
Caney Valley was 4-1 entering the contest. Four teams are above .500 in Class 3A, District 1: Galena (5-1, 3-0); Parsons (4-2, 2-1); Columbus (3-3, 2-1) and Caney Valley (4-2, 1-2). Parsons lost, 50-34, to Caney Valley last year and 48-34 in ’19.
Parsons has already enjoyed its third straight season of win improvement after 2-7 and 3-6 marks the last two years. The Vikings posted an 8-3 record and reached the quarterfinals in ’18, Parsons’ furthest playoff advancement in 42 years. Before then, Parsons had not posted a winning season since 2011.
One more victory for the Vikings this year would be Parsons’ third winning record since a 6-4 mark in 2004. Jeff Schibi is in his second season as Parsons’ head coach.
Parsons has used two quarterbacks with sophomore Tra Mack and junior Riley Baker. They have combined for 67 of 130 passing for 1,186 yards with 12 scores against eight interceptions. Sylvester has enjoyed a nice year with 29 catches for 516 yards and four scores, including a 97-yard reception. He has shown nice route running and moves in traffic throughout the season.
Junior Jessie Jones and 6-2 sophomore Landon Wheat have a combined 21 catches for six TDs. Overall, Sylvester has recorded 677 total yards.
Parsons’ passing offense has stayed strong after 2,000-yard passer Ethan Houk and 1,000-yard receiver Tanner Barcus both graduated. Barcus earned a Shrine Bowl nomination. Sylvester recorded 52 catches for 647 yards and four scores in 2020.
Tyson (6-2.5, 225) had a strong summer, including a 30-inch vertical and 12 reps at 225 pounds at the Sharp Performance. He has enjoyed a big year on defense with 44 tackles, 10.5 for loss, seven quarterback hurries and 3.5 sacks. Overall, Parsons has delivered 36 tackles for loss. Sylvester has recorded five passes defended and two interceptions. Sylvester and Tyson are team captains, along with senior lineman Hunter Brownewell and junior lineman Malikh Ferguson.